Austria 0-2 England
by Johnathan Stack (4/9/22)
Above: England’s Rachel Daley shows her delight after the match with World Cup qualification sealed. Photo: Lionesses.
England secured their place at next summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup with a 2-0 win away in Austria – a victory that maintained the Lionesses’ perfect record in World Cup Qualifying.
Goals in either half from Alessia Russo and Nikita Parris sealed the group for England who only needed one point coming into this game to be confirmed as Group D winners.
Russo was handed the number nine shirt relinquished by the retired Ellen White, in what was just her third start for England she repaid the faith in manager Sarina Wiegman’s decision to have Russo lead the line as she volleyed home from inside the area to give the Lionesses a seventh-minute lead.
England were out there to show why they are the European champions and looked comfortable passing the ball about, at times a little too comfortable with a couple of stray passes turning into opportunities for Austria and a lapse in concentration from England shot-stopper Mary Earps from receiving a pass for captain Leah Williamson saw Austria forward Julia Hickelsberger-Fuller close Earps down and put her under pressure which saw her attempt at a clearance deflect just past the post and nearly saw Austria level.
Nevertheless, England looked in control in this game against an opponent they have only beaten 1-0 on the last two occasions. The Lionesses controlled the midfield and a great pass from Bayern Munich player Georgia Stanway saw Nikita Parris score her first goal for England since last September with a great finish.
England has been dominant in the qualifying campaign, with nine wins from nine group games, 70 goals scored, and none conceded with one game left to play on Tuesday against Luxembourg.
The pressure is now off of the Lionesses who will play in the Stoke City Stadium in front of a sell-out crowd in their first game on home soil since being crowned European Champions by winning UEFA Euro 2022, 35 days ago and the Lionesses sold out friendly against world champions the USA can go ahead as planned as England won’t have to take part in the World Cup play-offs.
Speaking after the game, England head coach Sarina Wiegman said, “I’m very proud, we have done so well. From September last year till now we keep on doing well. Today was a hard game, we had some hard moments in the game, but I think we were the better team”.
Alessia Russo, who put the Lionesses ahead, spoke of her pride in the team’s mission being accomplished: “That was our main target this camp, and to have done it today is really special it’s what we have been aiming for. Now the Euros are done, it is behind us and now Australia and New Zealand is the next stop of the journey. To tick qualifying off is exciting”.
The scorer of the goal that sealed England’s qualification, new Manchester United signing Nikita Parris said: “Austria gave us a tough game, they always defend well against us, and it was about us having the patience to break them down. First half Austria stayed in the game we got the early goal, but in the second half we were so much better”.
Teams: AUSTRIA (4-1-4-1): Zinsberger, Wienroither, Wenninger, Georgieva, Hanshaw, Puntigam, Hickelsberger-Fuller, Zadrazil, Feiersinger, Dunst, Billa. Substitutes: Degen, Eder, El Sherif, Hobinger, Kirchberger, Klein, Kolb, Kresche, Nasschenweng, Schasching, Schiechtl, Wienerroither.
ENGLAND (4-2-1-3): Earps, Bronze, Bright, Williamson, Greenwood, Stanway, Walsh, Toone, Mead, Hemp, Russo. Substitutes: Carter, Daly, England, James, Nobbs, Parris, Roebuck, Salmon, Maciver, Stokes, Wubben-Moy, Zelem.
Goals: Russo 7′, Parris 69′.
Referee: Iuliana Elena Demetrescu.